being natural, human being, natural, simplicity, Taoist, Uncategorized

A Unique Contribution

Advised by good people, I am hearing two main schools of thought – “give them what they want” and “just do your own thing”. Needless to say, I have tried to reconcile the two. I have tried to do my own thing – offer my unique contribution – in ways that people seem to want. I don’t think I have been successful in this. So, I have decided to focus solely on writing and broadcasting my unique contribution. If some people want this and find it useful, then that is a bonus.

Confusingly, my unique contribution seems to be a mixture of things. Yet, perhaps this is the key. Perhaps it is the mixture that is unique, rather than the individual ingredients. What follows is me thinking aloud.

At the heart of my thinking are three core ideas: we are spiritual beings; we inhabit a spiritual universe; and we and the universe are mirror images of each other. Everything I write about – spiritual wealth, being natural, the New Economics, an expanded science, the “inner senses”, unusual abilities, intelligent simplicity, being a 21st Century Taoist – all of this can be traced back eventually to the three core ideas. But I suppose I need to explain what I mean by “spiritual”.

For me, “spiritual” means “transcending the physical”. If this feels disappointing, it is only because I do not wish to give the word “spiritual” more meaning than it needs to have. For example, I do not want to suggest that spiritual means “good” or “highly evolved” or anything like that. While it is true that these qualities may follow from being a spiritual being, they are not the essence, The essence is, as I said, that it transcends the physical. I suppose that this, too, needs a little explanation.

Although many people seem to confuse “physical” with “material”, it simply means that which is accessible to one of more of our five physical senses (hearing, sight etc.), and to extensions to these senses. So, although we cannot see all the moons of Saturn or a bacterium with the naked eye, we can see them with a telescope or microscope respectively. Similarly, although we cannot hear anything beyond the range of 20 – 20000 Hertz with the unaided ear, we can detect sound well outside this spectrum with sensitive instruments, which are, in effect, extensions to our ears. And so it is for each of our five senses. Scientific instruments enable us to experience much more of the physical world than we would normally experience with our unaided five senses. As I have written elsewhere, science officially believes that the universe is wholly physical, that there can be nothing apart from the physical. Although an increasing number of individual scientists believe otherwise, science as a whole does not accept that the “spiritual” (i.e. beyond the physical) is real. And, just to complete the circle, science believes that the universe is physical, and only physical, because it uses only the physical mode of perception to explore the world. The world responds accordingly, by giving the mistaken impression that it is wholly physical.

Perhaps, then, I should have said that at the heart of all my thinking and beliefs is my own personal experience that we human beings need not be limited to the physical mode of perception. We have other senses (I call them “inner senses”) that enable to perceive and experience the non-physical aspects of the world and ourselves. Although these inner senses are dormant in most people, they can be awakened and trained to the point where they are just as useful as our familiar physical senses. When this happens, the world and the human being look very different. Because they transcend the physical, they look spiritual!

More to come!

being natural, global change, human being, Intelligence, natural, simplicity, Taoist, Uncategorized

Being a Taoist Today

Taoism began about 2500 years ago, with a short book, the Tao Te Ching, written by an unknown author (in Chinese Lao Tze just means “the old guy”). That was a very different world. Today we have unprecedented problems. The list is alarmingly long: climate change; serious decline of all natural life-support systems: rapid species extinction: the threat of nuclear war; gross inequalities; and overpopulation.

We therefore need unprecedented solutions. This means several things: taking our problems much more seriously; acting with urgency; addressing the deeper underlying malaise of materialism; and approach our problems at all levels.

If we were all 21st Century Taoists, we would not have any of these problems. Why? Because we would be fully human, fully who we are capable of being. And we would act naturally, in accordance the the timeless principles of Nature. Unlike a Taoist 25 centuries ago, we would also be planetary, because we would be conscious of the planet as a whole, and of the global interconnectedness of everyone and everything.

I have today decided to write a book about this, about what it means to be a 21st Century Taoist

 

 

global change, the big questions, Uncategorized

The Big Questions

If you Google “the big questions”, you will be referred to a UK TV programme of that name. Although it poses some important questions, it rarely asks the truly big questions. We sometimes use the phrase and we know more or less what we mean by it. Today I would like to examine the topic more closely, and for a particular reason.

My friend Frank asked me to write a booklet on what needs to happen in the world today. My very short response is “fundamental change”. But, of course, I need to explain what I mean by this and how people might be induced to change fundamentally. The most powerful change I can think of is a change in our core beliefs. Change these, and everything else changes, including our values, our goals, and our lifestyles and behaviour. Much depends on how we answer the “big questions”. This is a centrally important issue. In this short paper I will simply outline the main parameters of the discussion. In the booklet I will lay out all the arguments.

Here is my own personal list of the “big questions”, in no particular order…

Is the universe wholly physical and material, or is it non-physical and spiritual too?

Is the universe without intrinsic meaning and purpose, or is it wholly meaningful and purposeful?

Did the universe, and life, happen by chance, or are they the deliberate product of some immense intelligence and part of some great purpose?

Is there no “God”, or could “God” be one and the same as the intelligent, purposeful universe?

Is consciousness simply a product of matter (i.e. the brain), or is matter the product of some greater consciousness?

Is our home planet just a large physical ball, or is it a “being”, in the sense of being alive, intelligent and consciousness?

The same question for stars and other parts of the universe

Do we exist only after conception and until the death of our body, or do we exist before conception and after the death of our body?

Are paranormal experiences, such as telepathy, precognition and NDEs, impossible (as claimed by science), or are they not only possible but perfectly natural?

This does not claim to be a full list of the big questions, but I think it is a useful sample for this discussion. It will no doubt be obvious that if you answer in the affirmative to all or most of the first parts of the questions, then these will be your core beliefs, and you will subscribe to the materialist worldview, which is the worldview of science. I hope that it is also obvious that if you do happen to subscribe to that worldview, this will strongly influence all aspects of your life, such as your values (what you believe to important), your goals (your central purpose), and your lifestyle and behaviour. If a majority of people in society have these materialist core beliefs, then society as a whole will reflect this. It will be very materialistic, with a tendency towards atheism, and with a strong belief in the “truths” of science. I hardly need add that this is the situation in many countries today, and the consequences are clear to anyone who has been paying attention. We have created unprecedented problems. This requires unprecedented solutions.

So, yes, humanity does need to change fundamentally. For this to happen, change has to occur at the deepest level, at the level of our core beliefs. How we approach and respond to the big questions is at the heart of this change.

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

being natural, human being, Intelligence, less is better, natural, Taoist, Uncategorized

A New Central Purpose

There was a time when I wrote a lot about the importance of having a clear, heartfelt central purpose.  The central purpose of anything – a nation, a business, a colony of ants, a human being – largely determines the nature of that thing, its parts, its processes, as well as its ethics and its qualities. I woke up this morning remembering that I need to apply this to myself!

Recently, I seem to be drifting. Perhaps it is the aftereffect of last year’s double trauma – Ana’s broken leg and mine. Perhaps it is because I am a kind of polymath, with wide-ranging knowledge and too many interests. In any event, it is time I focused. It is time for a clear, heartfelt central purpose. But how will I find it?

I know that I could focus on intelligent simplicity. After all, I have written much about it, and it is a natural sequel to my book Full Spectrum Intelligence. Not only that, it is pregnant with ideas and practises that will be new for many people…such as “being fully human”, the Law of Reverse Effort, “being natural”, and being a 21st Century Taoist. Yes, it would clearly be interesting, and no doubt useful, to produce a book, as well as podcasts and videos. But the question remains: is this my central purpose? Perhaps a better question would be: is this my central purpose for the moment? It could well be. However, this still leaves me wondering whether there is something deeper going on, something even more heartfelt.

Writing these words brings to mind the Galileo Commission, which I initiated in 2016, and in which I was actively involved for a while. Too actively, I think, because it led to a nervous breakdown at the end of 2017, and my leaving the Commission. What I originally intended the project to be was to find practical ways to bridge the immense gap between science and esoteric knowledge. I had felt, even since the early 60s, that this was my life’s mission. That was when I discovered that esoteric knowledge could be accessed directly through one’s “inner senses”. These are organs of perception, dormant in most of us, that enable us to have direct experience of the non-physical aspects of the world/Cosmos and the human being. Some would call these aspects “spiritual”, but this word can be misleading.

I am giving you the highly condensed version when I say that science, as it is currently understood and practised, gives us only parts of the picture, the physical parts. Esoteric knowledge complements this, by giving us the other (non-physical) parts. As it happens, the project (the Commission) quickly morphed in “expanding the range of science”, to include paranormal phenomena and experiences, as well as some aspects of mind and consciousness that science currently struggles with. I was very disappointed that esoteric knowledge was not more explicitly included. I believe that this remains a crucially important bridge to be built, but I wonder whether I have the energy and will to reinitiate it. That said, it does feel like my heartfelt central purpose.

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

Uncategorized

Does God Exist?

The answer to this question, of course, depends entirely on what the word “God” means. The fact is that it means so many different things to different people tells us that there can be no single correct answer. I will try to answer the question as I understand the word “God”. In doing so, I am immediately aware that I need to look at my own core beliefs…my own worldview, if you like. This is not as easy as it may seem.

I now realise, possibly for the first time, that at the heart of my belief-system is the belief that, when compared to all possible knowledge, about all possible things, I understand very little. I totally agree with Karl Popper, who said that our knowledge is always finite, but our ignorance is always infinite!

I understand very little. And I say this despite that fact that I have had a very good continuing education, and that I read very widely. There is just so much that we do not understand. Here are just a few examples:

We, meaning all of us, have no idea how the Cosmos began, if indeed “began” is the appropriate word. Scientists have advanced many theories (Big Bang, “singularity”, and so on) but they don’t really know.

We don’t know the deeper nature of the Cosmos. Yes, we know quite a lot about its physical and material aspects, but beyond this we are fumbling in the dark.

We do not know how life began on this planet. Again, scientists think they know – it happened by chance! – but they are only speculating.

As for other questions, such as “What is mind?”, “What is consciousness?” and “What is spirit?”, we struggle with these questions. Not surprisingly, scientists attempt to find answers rooted in the physical, the material, so they claim that mind and consciousness are both functions of the brain. They claim this, despite much good evidence that neither mind nor consciousness are limited to the brain. As for “spirit”, they tend to ignore that question.

You may be wondering where this is all leading. The answer is mystery. Not a mystery, just mystery itself.

I define “mystery” as that which eludes my understanding, and probably always will. I think it significant that scientists are encountering more and more mystery as they attempt to penetrate deeper in the nature of matter, life, and the Cosmos. As Alan Watts could have told them, decades ago, the more you try to understand mystery, the more it will elude your understanding. If you doubt this, just think quantum physics!

For me, personally, God is one and the same as mystery. I am content to accept that mystery will always elude me, and that I will never understand God. In this sense, at least, I am a good Taoist! It reminds me of a phrase I picked while attending the Church of Scotland in the 1950s. The phrase was “beyond all understanding”. For some reason this made a big impression on, and it still does. It seems clear that when we apply the rational mind to mystery, we always end up with more mystery.

That said, understanding is not the same as knowing. The best way I can think of describing the difference is that understanding is the successful response to questions such as “What?”, “How?” and “Why?”, whereas knowing is direct connection. Thus, I know you because I am connected to you in some way. But I may not understand you!

More generally, I can know mystery, even though I do not understand it. It follows that I can know God (as mystery), because I am connected to God, but I cannot put this into words, because I do not understand at the rational level.

At this point, you surely cannot expect me to try to explain what is “beyond all understanding”!

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

global change, Intelligence, Uncategorized

The Devil’s Delusion

This is the title of a book by David Berlinski. As the title may suggest, it is a refutation of the arguments set out in Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion”. I have read quite a few good refutations of Dawkins, but none as good as this one. It is short, always to the point, and well argued and written. I highly recommend it.

If you know Dawkins’ work, you will know he is a militant atheist. He is at pains to show that God does not, and cannot, exist. I do not think it an oversimplification to say that his argument is as follows:

There is no scientific evidence for the existence of God.

In any event, there is no need for God, because science has shown how the universe began, how life got stated, and how we human beings have evolved to what we are today.

Science may not have all the answers, but it will eventually. (I believe that the inference is that science’s “truths” are the best truths)

Berlinski refutes all of this, with very compelling arguments. I am much more convinced by Berlinski than by Dawkins. But this raises an interesting question: why are Dawkins’ book and arguments so well known and so widely accepted, and why are Berlinski’s book and arguments so little known? Is it because of the zeitgeist? Is it because we are living through very materialistic times, this reflected in the current predominance of the beliefs and worldview of science? There is no doubt that this is part of the reason. However, I think it is also because we non-materialists tend to be quiet. We tend to keep our beliefs to ourselves, rather than trumpeting them loudly in books, conferences and on YouTube.

All this puts me in mind of the “intellectual dark web”. If you have not come across this, you could do no better than explore the videos put on YouTube by Rebel Wisdom. While some of the content and some of the personalities (notably Jordan Peterson) make compelling viewing, one is left with the impression that much of it is just scientific materialism dressed up in new clothes. For example, much time is devoted to evolutionary biology, of which Dawkins is a big part. To be fair, Jordan Peterson is clearly a fan of Carl Jung and his archetypes, and he appreciates the significance of deep myth, including some of the stories in the Bible. And I am heartened to see that Rupert Sheldrake is getting the airing that his ideas have long deserved. Overall, however, there is little that is new. Yes, it is true that Ken Wilber has made some recent appearances on the IDW, but Ken and his ideas have been around since 1973, the year of his first book “A Spectrum of Consciousness”.

My thoughts about all this are still not fully formed, but I will end this with just one thought. I do believe that there is a need for some new thinking about the big, important things. But I also believe that this needs to go well beyond what Rebel Wisdom seem to be trying to achieve. It needs to include intelligent, open exploration of those topics and questions that are largely ignored by science. The list is alarming long, and it includes unusual forms of consciousness (not induced by drugs), as well as the whole range of so-called paranormal experiences and phenomena. Now, that would be an intellectual web that I would be proud to be part of!

 

Chris Thomson

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

Uncategorized

Being a Taoist Today

Being a Taoist in today’s world is not easy, partly because it is never easy to be a Taoist, but mainly because today’s world seems to be the antithesis of everything that Taoism stands for. If you are not sure what I mean, let me just say a few words about a typical Taoist, and you will see how this contrasts with the world today.

A typical Taoist is quiet, internally peaceful, very economical, and natural. By this I mean that he (or she) lives in tune with Nature, according to “Nature’s way” (which is one interpretation of the word “Tao”).

Because the Taoist is like this, he is able to use minimum effort, minimum resources, to achieve optimum results. A Taoist does not waste this planet’s resources, nor his own

It goes without saying, I hope, that, if we were all Taoists, we would not be facing the existential problems of climate change and the rapid decline of all this planet’s life-support systems. That part seems clear.

And although I have not fully thought this through, I think it is also clear that if we were all Taoists, we would not have the equally pressing problems of war, poverty, fanaticism, and the infantilisation of society.

Of course, we are not all Taoists. Indeed, many of us seem to be the opposite – noisy, internally at war with ourselves, very uneconomical, and anything but natural. Much has been said and written about why we are this way, and I have no intention of repeating all that. Much less has been said and written on what it would take to transform ourselves radically…into 21st Century Taoists. Reading a good translation of the Tao Te Ching would be a good start. I highly recommend Stephen Mitchell’s version. Beyond that, what would help most, I believe, is to slow down, stop, and become quite inside.